Should New Dads Have More Flexible Time Off Work? ⋆

Should New Dads Have More Flexible Time Off Work?

When a new child is born, the problem with modern society is that the parents are often split up too early. Most of the time, the father has to go back to work, as paternity leave and maternity leave are not the same.

Meanwhile, the mother is left to do the vast majority of the work while the father returns to bring in the money. It’s a nightmare, to be honest – and it has a major impact on the health and wellbeing of these new mothers.

One study, though, found that by giving fathers more flexible time off work, more could be done to help reduce sickness and stress levels for new mothers.

This new study is bound to have a major impact on the way that many businesses look at their employment practices.

With paid maternity leave often a dream for most people in America, for example, the need to get back to work often trumps the need to spend time with our new children.

It means that the mothers are often battling against a loss of income as well as the massive life changes that come with being a parent. According to a new Stanford University study, though, that could be hugely counterproductive.

Having looked at Sweden – where many good laws and practices exist – the study found that changes to paternity leave were very important. Before 12, Sweden had a policy in that 16-months of paid leave per child could be given out, shared between the two parents.

That was relatively fair, but the parents could not take simultaneous maternity/paternity leave outside of the first 10 days of childbirth.

Can we learn from the Swedes?

However, while the goal was to get dads doing more motherly work around the home, the policy was leading to adverse impact on the mothers themselves. As of the Double Days Reform that came in place in January 1st, 2012, everything has changed.

Now, the leave benefits of both parents can coincide for up to 30 extra days during that first year of life for the little one.

This would give the parents total flexibility, with day-to-day decision being made, on how they would look to deal with this. Stanford researchers soon found that this move from the Swedish government was profound in changing how the country handles its management of early life.

They found that mothers were suffering far less from issues such as post-partum depression, anti-anxiety medical prescriptions, and various other long-term benefits. Indeed, even hospital visits were reduced – as well as antibiotic prescriptions.

It would be fair, then, to say that this change to Swedish policy was a major success. The ability for both partners to spend more time together and to do things as a couple during such a major time of upheaval is essential to ensuring that both mother and father can return to work.

Done right, this could cause a huge change in how American parents bring up their children during those crucial early years of development.